Paresh Dave

Deep dives

Palestinians Are Locked Out of Google’s Online Economy

November 20, 2023 at WIRED

YouTube's revenue sharing for creators and other Google services are shut off or hard to access for people in Palestinian territories. That digital divide is under new scrutiny as war ravages Gaza.

AI Algorithms Are Biased Against Skin With Yellow Hues

October 3, 2023 at WIRED

Google, Meta, and others test their algorithms for bias using standardized skin tone scales. Sony says those tools ignore the yellow and red hues at work in human skin color.

At Taser maker Axon, ex-staffers say loyalty meant being tased or tattooed

August 30, 2023 at Reuters

Axon Enterprise is best known for its electroshock Taser device that immobilizes criminal suspects. Less familiar: what one-time staffers describe as an all-in culture, in which some felt pressed to be tased before onlookers, get permanently inked with company tattoos, or join a stock plan that left some in the lurch. Axon says it never pressures employees to do any of these things.

Taser maker Axon has a moving backstory. It's mostly a myth

December 27, 2023 at Reuters

Axon CEO Rick Smith claims his highly successful Taser company was inspired by the death of two school friends gunned down years ago. But much of the tale is false, Reuters found, part of a pattern of misrepresentations and self-serving behavior among top Axon executives.

Chegg Embraced AI. ChatGPT Ate Its Lunch Anyway

June 5, 2023 at WIRED

The education company is a case study in generative AI’s disruptive power. Now it’s trying to prove it can beat back ChatGPT with an in-house chatbot.

Caste in California: Tech giants confront ancient Indian hierarchy

August 15, 2022 at Reuters

America's tech giants are taking a modern-day crash course in India's ancient caste system, with Apple (AAPL.O) emerging as an early leader in policies to rid Silicon Valley of a rigid hierarchy that's segregated Indians for generations.

U.S. cities are backing off banning facial recognition as crime rises

May 12, 2022 at Reuters

Facial recognition is making a comeback in the United States as bans to thwart the technology and curb racial bias in policing come under threat amid a surge in crime and increased lobbying from developers.

Companies confront a new climate challenge: home offices

May 5, 2022 at Reuters

A few companies have begun counting what happens when employees boot up computers at home, turn up gas furnaces and ignore the world's most energy-efficient corporate campuses. It turns out that home setups popularized by the pandemic are eroding some of the climate benefit of abandoned commutes.

Money, mimicry and mind control: Big Tech slams ethics brakes on AI

September 8, 2021 at Reuters

Reported here for the first time, their vetoes and the deliberations that led to them reflect a nascent industry-wide drive to balance the pursuit of lucrative AI systems with a greater consideration of social responsibility.

U.S. banks deploy AI to monitor customers, workers amid tech backlash

April 19, 2021 at Reuters

Several U.S. banks have started deploying camera software that can analyze customer preferences, monitor workers and spot people sleeping near ATMs, even as they remain wary about possible backlash over increased surveillance, more than a dozen banking and technology sources told Reuters.

Google told its scientists to 'strike a positive tone' in AI research - documents

Dec. 23, 2020 at Reuters

Alphabet Inc’s Google this year moved to tighten control over its scientists’ papers by launching a “sensitive topics” review, and in at least three cases requested authors refrain from casting its technology in a negative light, according to internal communications and interviews with researchers involved in the work.

Google internet balloon spinoff Loon still looking for its wings

June 30, 2019 at Reuters

Google’s bet on balloons to deliver cell service soon faces a crucial test amid doubts about the viability of the technology by some potential customers.

When it comes to disclosing sponsors, your Google Assistant may be mute

April 1, 2019 at Reuters

Google’s conundrum is one facing several big tech companies whose users increasingly seek help from voice-enabled speakers and gadgets: how to deliver greater convenience while still generating the ad revenue that traditionally has funded free searches.

Facebook 'labels' posts by hand, posing privacy questions

May 5, 2019 at Reuters

Over the past year, a team of as many as 260 contract workers in Hyderabad, India has ploughed through millions of Facebook Inc photos, status updates and other content posted since 2014.

Fearful of bias, Google blocks gender-based pronouns from new AI tool

Nov. 27, 2018 at Reuters

Google has a new cloud computing boss and big ambitions to someday produce more revenue from that business than from advertising. Now comes the hard part: winning over big-spending customers.

In e-sports, it's the bosses who are rallying for a union

May 26, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

Such demonstrations of player activism in the last few years have e-sports management not sweating through the typical corporate nightmares about unionization, but instead dreaming about a future with players’ associations.

Venture capitalists look beyond tech to the dietary supplements market. Scientists express worry.

April 21, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

There are signs that these start-ups, like many supplement companies before them, leave out key facts and overstate health claims.

Weedmaps — a Yelp for pot — is riddled with suspicious reviews

Aug. 24, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

a key feature — user reviews of pot businesses — may be tainted by thousands of potentially fraudulent comments, a flaw in the company's software revealed.

Why Vizio has no official standards for how its suppliers treat workers

Aug. 3, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

Vizio, which recently agreed to sell itself to Chinese mega-firm LeEco for $2 billion in cash, doesn't require vendors to comply with a formal code of conduct — a common industry practice defining a company's labor and environmental standards.

Owners of professional video game teams in a battle of their own

June 11, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

Months after Susan Tully and friends bought a pair of professional video game teams for an estimated $1 million, her four-man “Call of Duty” squad finished its season in 11th out of 12 places. A loss in a post-season gunfight would relegate Tully’s H2K squad to the second-tier league. There, exposure and sponsor interest would dissolve.

How a hot L.A. start-up went bankrupt: Inside the 'stress cage' that was Fuhu

Aug. 27, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

When graphic designers at children's tablet and app maker Fuhu Inc. put up a Christmas tree with wacky ornaments for the holidays, an executive ripped them off and trashed them.

VoIP phone hackers pose public safety threat

July 18, 2013 at Los Angeles Times

Hospitals, 911 call centers and other public safety agencies can be shut down by hackers using denial-of-service attacks.

Harvard-Westlake Alums Provide Powerful Backing To Eric Garcetti

February 20, 2013 at

Some of L.A.’s best and brightest packed into the speakeasy-themed Next Door Lounge on Hollywood Boulevard last November to hear Eric Garcetti, the front-runner in the mayoral race, speak. But these talent agents, Internet entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, real estate developers, movie producers, writers, and brokers had more in common than deep pockets and powerful positions.

L.A. Ice Cream Trucks, Food Carts Question A Revolution In Fees Amid Recession

Oct. 31, 2011 at Neon Tommy

Until the recession hit, operating a business on wheels seemed like a slick job to many L.A. immigrants. ALSO SEE: Double Parking Tickets Spike For Some L.A. Ice Cream Trucks.


Pinterest’s New Algorithms Want You to See Every Body Type

November 7, 2023 at WIRED

Social media algorithms usually promote biases toward white, thin bodies. Pinterest is using machine learning to surface images of all shapes and sizes.

EXCLUSIVE Facial recognition company Clearview AI seeks first big deals, discloses research chief

Feb. 12, 2022 at Reuters

Clearview AI, whose search engine for faces has become an unrivaled police tool, this year is aiming to win its first big U.S. government contracts and expand its team by a third even as the startup fights challenges in the courts and Congress, its chief executive told Reuters.

U.S. student's app offers roadmap to Singapore contact tracing tech

June 9, 2020 at Reuters

It all started when Rohan Suri created an app at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia, to tell his mom to leave home for the bus stop when he was seven minutes away. As the Ebola epidemic ravaged western Africa at the time, Suri and schoolmate Claire Scoggins connected the dots between tracking apps and contact tracers who ask patients whom they may have spread viruses to.

Dollar Shave Club succeeded with razors, but the rest of the bathroom is a challenge

Sept. 1, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

Unilever bought into the idea that Dollar Shave Club could sell more lucrative products than razors and that it could win over consumers abroad. But the initial results of what’s expected to be a multiyear transition — Act Two, as Dubin calls it — have been underwhelming, according to two sources familiar with the company but unauthorized to discuss it.

Loot Crate became the nation's fastest-growing start-up, then it laid off over a quarter of its staff

June 30, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

On its ascent to becoming the nation’s fastest-growing start-up, Loot Crate Inc. fostered a workplace in which employees warred with Nerf guns, proudly brandished Captain America socks and chanted the company’s name like a rally cry. But by last summer, when the Los Angeles firm landed on the cover of Inc. magazine for its stupendous expansion, the enthusiasm had been zapped.

Ring modernized the doorbell, then its inventor, Jamie Siminoff, went to war against crime

May 12, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

If booming sales, expanding offices and a parade of TV commercials hadn’t put Jamie Siminoff on the radar of the home security industry, an early March incident certainly did.

Bobby Murphy cleaned up after frat parties; now he stands to clean up in Snapchat IPO

March 1, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

Relative to Spiegel, Murphy is an unknown entity publicly. He's rarely seen or heard from outside the research and development teams he leads as chief technology officer. The few people willing to discuss him describe him as quiet, unpretentious and stoic.

There's one part of Snapchat that Facebook can't copy: CEO Evan Spiegel

March 1, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

Spiegel’s view of social media is decidedly different from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is six years older. But with Facebook racing to catch up, Spiegel is challenging investors to shell out for young and cool at the expense of safe and mainstream.

How Blizzard turned a costly failure into the highly anticipated 'Overwatch'

Dec. 27, 2015 at Los Angeles Times

Blizzard Entertainment spent millions of dollars and more than five years designing a vast, ambitious video game only to realize that it wasn't fun. The project, code-named Titan, "utterly, completely and miserably" failed, according to the guy who ran it, veteran designer Jeffrey Kaplan.


Generative AI Is Coming for Sales Execs’ Jobs—and They’re Celebrating

October 5, 2023 at WIRED

ChatGPT-style AI can tackle the drudge work of responding to RFPs faster than humans. Sales teams at Google, Twilio, and others say productivity is spiking.

The Scramble to Save Twitter’s Research From Elon Musk

February 15, 2023 at WIRED

Fearing the company’s new management, researchers frantically completed studies on misinformation and algorithmic bias, then published them online.

Tech Workers Fight for Iran Protesters as Big Tech Plays It Safe

January 20, 2023 at WIRED

Companies like Google have offered a muted response to unrest in Iran. Grassroots coders are tackling internet censorship on their own.

Ukraine's tech diaspora races to mobilize Silicon Valley in war with Russia

March 2, 2022 at Reuters

Ukrainians working at Western tech companies are banding together to help their besieged homeland, aiming to knock down disinformation websites, encourage Russians to turn against their government, and speed delivery of medical supplies.

Skin in the game: Video chat apps tout ‘inclusive’ AI features

Jun. 7, 2021 at Reuters

Video conferencing services have for years boasted that their technology is “intuitive” to use or “integrated” to function with other tools, but now vendors such as Google and Cisco can hardly go a blog post without trumpeting a different attribute: “inclusive.”

In pandemic Christmas, U.S. rivals aim to challenge Amazon under the tree

Nov. 20, 2020 at Reuters

Walmart Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and hundreds of smaller retailers are bolstering their online gift features, hoping to challenge Inc's dominance as a seller of holiday gifts to homebound shoppers.

Fans of card games resort to playing via video chat during social distancing

April 9, 2020 at Reuters

Providing the entertainment for the home-bound are software developers such as Jackson Owens who maintain free copycats of the games. Their obscure websites exploded in usage last month when social distancing measures locked Europeans and Americans at home and forced them to take dinner parties and happy hours online.

Olympics: Coronavirus closures force softball players into TFH mode - training from home

March 19, 2020 at Reuters

Locked out of practice fields because of coronavirus-related restrictions, Olympic softball players this week began turning their homes into training centers and preparing to lean on smartphone apps for virtual coaching.

Some Facebook content reviewers in India complain of low pay, high pressure

Feb. 28, 2019 at Reuters

On a busy day, contract employees in India monitoring nudity and pornography on Facebook and Instagram will each view 2,000 posts in an eight-hour shift, or almost four a minute.

People's Bitmoji obsession gives Snapchat a quiet edge in augmented reality

Sept. 14, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

The hilarity and absurdity of those images has turned Bitmoji into one of the most-downloaded apps in the world, and its illustrations have taken over text-messaging threads and Snapchat conversations. They’ve become such an important form of self-expression that it’s common to encounter people like Desai, who regularly update their Bitmoji avatars to reflect new hairdos and fashion choices.

Snapchat has changed Venice, and the neighborhood isn't changing back

Jan. 17, 2017 at Los Angeles Times

The strategy could reflect Snap's acknowledgement that additional Venice development would blunt the creative diversity and bohemian vibrancy that drew it to the locale five years ago. Snap doesn't comment on real estate, but says it strives to be a friendly neighbor. It has donated to local programs for the homeless and arts education.

Venues are catering to e-sports fans with beanbag chairs, energy drinks and food on sticks

July 7, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

It's among the accommodations event spaces across the country are making in bids to capitalize on the rise of arena-packing video-game contests, which they hope will attract a new generation of event-goers -- and with them increased ticket and concession sales.

Celebrity cybersecurity consultants protect stars from hackers

June 4, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

The celebrity entourage has a new member.

Fitness app Strava faces an uproar over an elite cycling user linked to doping

April 18, 2016 at Los Angeles Times

Some cyclists want the account's jewels stripped, arguing that people connected to cheating deserve no rewards, even in cyberspace. Alternatives they've suggested include leaving a syringe emoji next to the account's profile photo in perpetuity.

Futsal, soccer in miniature, gains popularity at L.A. parks

Jan. 15, 2014 at Los Angeles Times

The fast-moving game of five-player teams is taking over tennis and volleyball courts. Costing 10% of a soccer field, a futsal court is also a bargain for parks officials.

Sports agents sometimes have a balancing act with clients

Dec. 26, 2013 at Los Angeles Times

It's not unsual for a representative to negotiate for clients vying for the same position. The case of USC football coaches Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian is an example.

Play me now, pay me later

Nov. 17, 2013 at Los Angeles Times

By deferring some earnings, athletes can help themselves and their teams. But problems can occur.

Northern Ireland Attempts to Bridge Religious Rifts Through Youth Soccer

June 11, 2013 at

Little by little, Protestants and Catholics are coming together to form integrated teams, although tensions in their communities still run high.

At Irish Weddings And Funerals, Priests Pushed Away

May 21, 2013 at Religion News Service

Although many observers have noted the impact of secularization and child abuse scandals on church membership and finances, only now are the Irish seeing the cultural and socioeconomic reverberations. These include a class of people willing to observe life’s most significant milestones outside the church.

Public records

Dashcam Footage Shows Driverless Cars Clogging San Francisco

April 10, 2023 at WIRED

Videos obtained by WIRED from public transit vehicles reveal self-driving cars causing delays and potential danger to buses, trains, and passengers.

GM's Cruise wins first California permit to carry paying riders in driverless cars

June 2, 2022 at Reuters

Public records seen by Reuters show Cruise with its computers in control suffered 34 accidents involving bodily harm or over $1,000 in damage across nearly 3 million miles of driving during a four-year span ended May 2021.

Spending to fight U.S. unemployment fraud brings boost, scrutiny to Alphabet-funded

July 22, 2021 at Reuters in a year has gone from vetting unemployment claimants in zero states to 27, to help address what the U.S. government said could amount to $87 billion in improper unemployment benefits payments during the pandemic. Many of those states have exercised "emergency" or "sole-source" exemptions to skip getting competing bids, according to records Reuters reviewed from 11 agencies.

Bleary-eyed U.S. election officials turn to signature-verifying software in mail-in surge

September 24, 2020 at Reuters

When election officials in at least 29 U.S. counties face an expected avalanche of mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election due to the coronavirus pandemic, they will not rely on eyes alone to verify voters’ signatures.

Facebook's flood of languages leave it struggling to monitor content

April 22, 2019 at Reuters

Facebook Inc’s struggles with hate speech and other types of problematic content are being hampered by the company’s inability to keep up with a flood of new languages as mobile phones bring social media to every corner of the globe.

In North Dakota's oil bonanza, natural gas goes up in flames

July 16, 2014 at Los Angeles Times

Frank and Wanda Leppell once lived on a quiet cattle ranch in the middle of a rolling prairie, the lowing of cattle and the chirping of sparrows forming a pleasant soundtrack to their mornings. No more.

Serial rapist's search for housing underscores challenges of release

July 8, 2014 at Los Angeles Times

On a dirt road near Palmdale Boulevard, the isolated 800-square-foot house is surrounded by more snake holes than trees and there is barely a footprint in the soft sand.

UCLA, UC Berkeley Travel Far-And-Wide To Diversify Applicants

Nov. 10, 2011 at Neon Tommy

High school senior Anna Milioutina would love the chance to escape what she described as the "gray monotony" of Seattle and get her creative juices flowing in the culture capital that is Los Angeles.

L.A. Mayoral Campaigns Largely Financed By Westside Donors

May 16, 2013 at Neon Tommy

Almost half of the $10 million raised by this year's Los Angeles mayoral candidates comes from the Westside, an area that accounts for just 15 percent of the city’s population.

Money-Making, Congestion-Reducing Express Lanes Spread On California Freeways

Dec. 18, 2012 at Neon Tommy

Between July 2012 and June 2013, non-carpoolers in California are projected to pay $54.7 million to drive in carpool lanes that have been rebranded as Express Lanes, according to public budget documents and interviews with project managers.

In California, Obama's High-Speed Rail Network Slowed By Authority's Miscues

May 9, 2011 at Neon Tommy

They are the women who ditch their heels and relax into walking shoes at the end of the day. They are the men who prefer light messenger bags or rolling briefcases. They are the people found at L.A.'s Union Station who commute to and from work everyday by train. Also see: California High-Speed Rail's PR Mess.